- Paperback: 298 pages
- Publisher: Prometheus Books; First edition (June 23, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1591027217
- ISBN-13: 978-1591027218
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,304,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Caveman Logic: The Persistence of Primitive Thinking in a Modern World First Edition
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"What was good enough 200,000 years ago no longer works very well. Davis makes his case with illuminating examples from everyday life. Caveman Logic is written with wit, humor and compassion. A must-read for those searching beyond superstition and fear to understand our place in the universe." --Prof. Harry M.B. Hurwitz, Director, The Lessing Institute
"Hank Davis does a terrific job in helping readers understand how ways of thinking that were both reasonable and advantageous in caveman days become illogical - and potentially destructive - when they are overextended to modern times. A stimulating, thought-provoking book!" --Madeleine Van Hecke, author of Blind Spots: Why Smart People Do Dumb Things
"Why do we humans suffer from delusions such as those of religion? Davis gives the best explanation yet. Our brains are still the same as our Pleistocene ancestors whose survival was enhanced by seeing dangers even when they were none there. By critical thinking we can rid ourselves of these no longer needed survival tools." --Victor J. Stenger, author of the New York Times bestseller God: The Failed Hypothesis.
About the Author
Hank Davis (Guelph, Ontario, Canada) is an award-winning professor of psychology who teaches at the University of Guelph. He is the author of several books on behavioral science and popular culture and more than one hundred scientific papers.
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Top Customer Reviews
"Caveman Logic" is exactly about that: a way of thinking and acting that after millennia follows with us. This is easier to say than to base or to prove it with data, analysis and discussion. In order to do this, the book has been organized in seven chapters, being the latest of them "Can it be fixed?" which tells almost everything about the book just before reading it although the issue is established at the very beginning: "Our bodies seem to be standing up rather well; it's our minds that are slipping into obsolescence." And also "Biology is not destiny."
Can we change our minds to live in accordance with the complexities of a world outside the cavern? Should we? Do we must change? Why? Why to change if everything is right?
This book doesn't make a problem where there is none. Bad books do that. This book notes, based on observations and experiments, what the majority of us don't see. We were prepared to solve issues that are out of date (running to hunt, running to not being hunted), those that were good for living in the jungle. Now we live in cities facing different problems and solving them but --this is the interesting part-- using the same savanna tools. If the most part of our existence as a species we lived there, in the African Savanna, why should we consider now, right now, that there is a problem with it?
In "Caveman Logic" you discover why the world has the shape we see or read every single morning in the news, newspapers or magazines. Why when we were children our mothers discovered that we were telling lies just by looking at us directly in the eyes? Why we also discover that in others by using the same trick? Or, the other way round, what are we so afraid of taking a flight and not so much of taking a cab in NY city, Buenos Aires or Paris? Why do we go to the casino if we know that, at last, we are going to lose and the casino is going to win? Why, in some circumstances, do we act first and think later? Why we believe in magic, spirits, fairy tales, gods, and so on?
This book can be read before or after Steven Pinker's "The Blank slate," Michael Gazzaniga's "Who's in charge," Antonio Damasio's "Self comes to mind," Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking fast and slow," Charles Duhigg's "Habit," Nate Silver's "The signal and the noise," just for give you some ideas. The difference with "The Caveman Logic" is that it acts as a very good introduction and also as a very good epilogue to all of them. Furthermore, it gives you the tension and the impulse that you need in order to keep researching about why the world is the way it is.
More than interesting, a necessary book. Today more than ever.
Thank you, Hank.
The primary thesis of Caveman Logic comes back to the fact that for all of the pre-disposed ways of human thought that work well, the areas in which we are particularly bad at stem from the misapplication of the strengths. One of the ways that this occurs is through the over-extension of one way of thinking into another domain that it was not designed by natural selection for, and more importantly, is demonstrably bad at.
This comes to bear in Davis's critique of supernatural beliefs where such mental tools as agent detection (which is a very good skill to have) is applied to reasoning about natural occurrences. We see this happen all the time when our low-brow religious mouthpieces such as Pat Robertson blame natural disasters on the agency of God (as with hurricane Katrina). In Davis's estimation, which seems right on target, such a superstition is developed and utilized (and is successfully convincing to a large number of people) since it offers a social understanding of events and avoids that dreaded thing that humans have little tolerance for--ambiguity and meaninglessness. By adding an agent into the equation of explaining a natural disaster, an illusory form of meaning can be gained. Not only that, but it places the event into a social context--something humans are already very good at understanding and interpreting events within.
For all the strengths of the book, I did have a few objections. The book doesn't seem to have a clear audience in mind. At one moment it seems to be a clear exposition of our "caveman logic" and therefore aimed at readers like me looking for a nice refresher and synthesis of the subject. But at others (particularly the last chapter) it can seem almost preachy. While I understand and completely agree with the author that this is an issue of vital importance, the rhetoric seemed to not match the intended goal. If his goal was to provide a good synthesis to readers like me, he didn't need the last chapter (at least in its current form--it did broach new information that would certainly want to be included in any edition). But if his goal was to persuade readers who might hold beliefs he considers irrational, then the sometimes blunt rhetoric may just serve to alienate them.
That minor objection aside, the substance of the book is rewarding and certainly needful. I know it's cliché to say, but this book does deserve a very wide audience.
He explains Gods and Devils which will turn off any religious readers as the strong light of day is not for tender leaves. Probably the only people to enjoy this are those who don't need it. Andrea Heyser
The book includes twelve tips to help us recognize the irrational and dangerous things we continue to believe. There is a saying in the book that states: "If you don't recognize it as a problem, there's no hope of getting it fixed." This book helps us recognize and fix our tendency toward caveman logic.
Empowering and liberating. Highly recommended!